My Top 8 Outdoor Adventures

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“I’m a synchronized-swimming, yoga-doing, horseback-riding, wall-climbing type of girl. My hand-eye coordination is zero.”

– Mia Thermopolis in “The Princess Diaries”

I was never very sporty as a kid. In fact, I dreaded Games period at school, when we’d be forced to wear those awful dust-blue track suits and pummel each other in Netball matches. I was also quite lazy, and always looked for opportunities to get by in a game of KhoKho or Cricket with the least amount of movement (hitting chaukas and chakkas was my specialty). Swimming was the only sport I enjoyed at school – maybe because I could do it solo, without depending on or being depended on by anyone. I suppose it’s not the kind of thing you’d mention in a job application, the apathy for competitive, coordinated team sports. But I just wasn’t into it.

Years after resigning to my regrettable un-athleticness, I discovered that there did exist physical activities that people like me were actually good at – “adventure sports”! I think it was that first rock climbing-cliff diving-caving trip to Khanpur with the LUMS Adventure Society in Pakistan that sparked it off – and, I’m happy to report, I’ve never looked back :)

Here’s a list of my 8 most memorable adventure sport experiences…hopefully many more to come!

  • Hiking / Camping
Hiking through Harriman State Park, New Jersey
Our campsite at Pine Meadow Lake, Harriman State Park
Our campsite at Pine Meadow Lake, Harriman State Park
  • Horseback Riding
Getting on my horse Mariposa in Arenal, Costa Rica
Riding 2 hours through Costa Rican countryside
  • Rock Climbing
Rock climbing in the Adirondack Mountains, New York
Hi down there!
  • Skiing

(I don’t have any pictures of me actually skiing, but here’s the beautiful place we went to!)

Mallamjabba Ski Resort in Swat, Pakistan
Ski slope
  • Snorkeling
On the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica
Angelfish at the Cahuita coral reef, Costa Rica
  • Zip-lining 
Canopy Tour in Selvatura National Park, Costa Rica
Riding on a 1km-long cable 500 ft above the Monteverde Cloud Forest!
  • White Water Rafting
On the Pacuare River in Costa Rica
Class III-IV Rapids!
  • Skydiving
Parachuting down after the freefall at the Long Island Skydiving Center, New York
Strapped on to my instructor, with the whole of Long Island below us!

109 thoughts on “My Top 8 Outdoor Adventures

    Bia said:
    December 14, 2011 at 5:18 am

    it’s good you listed them out like this! i didn’t remember half the things you’ve done, IT’S SO COOL!!!

    chrisvoges said:
    November 1, 2011 at 11:44 pm

    This reminds me that I need to find extra time this year to learn scuba diving. I’ve always wanted to do this since forever….It’s time to get up and follow your dreams…thanks for you post.

    trialsinfood said:
    October 27, 2011 at 5:46 pm

    awesome! i was never much of an athletic in school myself. have yet to skydive, but would love to! you should try bungee jumping!

    bebestyles said:
    October 27, 2011 at 5:34 am

    Oh man….sky diving must be such a thriller…that’s my first to do list before I die.

    Emily Warren said:
    October 24, 2011 at 4:30 pm

    Motivates me to get out and do more! Love the last picture. Very cool.

    Smart Guy said:
    October 23, 2011 at 6:19 pm

    You should try surfing. I stopped playing competitive sports because I am TOO competitive and now I mainly surf and snowboard. Love it.

    Cody said:
    October 19, 2011 at 2:54 pm

    Some people have all the fun! I’m personally getting excited about the prospect of ultralight backpacking. For some reason I enjoy counting the ounces and dropping them where possible.

    GOactivities said:
    October 18, 2011 at 6:01 am

    This is a great blog – and just what we are working on to at – getting people who wouldn’t usually go ghyll scrambling, caving, monster trucking, biking, riding etc all out there! Check out our blog and website when it launches! :)

    tsizzles said:
    October 17, 2011 at 7:09 pm

    That’s an interesting post. It reminds me of something I wrote recently on my blog

    daydreamingactress said:
    October 11, 2011 at 3:54 am

    Beautiful shots! Love these activities- now to get out to try more of them :) Cheers to adventures to be had!

    Zuhaib said:
    October 8, 2011 at 8:40 am

    Wow Manal!!!! Your post got amazing responses……hehe u being celebrity :)

    gaycarboys said:
    October 6, 2011 at 1:31 pm

    It’s stunning photos like that which make me wish I was more outdoorsey

    & edi said:
    October 6, 2011 at 8:42 am

    Great post guys.. I like rock climbing.. :D

    theoutsidersinside said:
    October 6, 2011 at 5:06 am

    Great pictures! I recently discovered adventure sports for myself as well. Your pictures are really inspiring, and I`ve already tried snorkeling, skiing, skydiving and rafting myself. Rock climbing sounds like fun, I think I`ll try that out next.

    goose-jacket said:
    October 5, 2011 at 10:56 pm

    Thanks for sharing your adventures.Your photos are beautiful!

    Aileen Torres said:
    October 5, 2011 at 5:15 pm

    Livin’ the life!

    samanthagf said:
    October 5, 2011 at 3:04 pm

    This is amazing. I would be terrified to sky dive, but I love, canoeing, kayaking, rock climbing. I love overseas adventures. I have yet to really explore the world, but I look forward to all the possibilities. Your photos are beautiful! I loved what you shared :)

    Peas and Cougars said:
    October 5, 2011 at 12:50 pm

    No one can say you haven’t lived life to the fullest! Awesome photos!

    Loving life! said:
    October 5, 2011 at 12:28 pm

    wow i love all those things. i Have a horse, and i go white water rafting every year! hope you had fun!

    childfreefeminist said:
    October 5, 2011 at 12:20 pm

    Those are amazing photos. The most stunning is you above Long Island. How did it feel being so high up in the air? I know you’re smiling but weren’t you afraid? Those definitely look like super fun adventures, for sure. And I’m sure white water rafting beats a game of netball any day! :)

    newsy1 said:
    October 5, 2011 at 12:17 pm

    Wow! None of these look un-athletic to me. I’v done the skiing and white water rafting but the skydiving for me would require nerves of steel. Terrific shots and post.

    leilanidance said:
    October 5, 2011 at 11:55 am

    Great post. Love the sports you do. Have done quite a few myself except ski diving. Wonderful photos. Really like your Costa Rica pics. Trying to convince my husband to go there one day.

    businessbrainsindia said:
    October 5, 2011 at 11:34 am

    Wow! This is what I was looking for ! You made my day lady ! Great Post ! Beautiful pictures and surely it covers almost all of the adventure sports I have been looking for!

    sportsjim81 said:
    October 5, 2011 at 11:07 am

    Man, these are some great pictures. I love skiing as well, and contemplated skydiving but have not gotten up the nerve. Congrats to you on that!

    graciehart1 said:
    October 5, 2011 at 10:55 am

    I love that you try all of these things. I definitely want to go zip lining, but I could do without the skydiving.

    Sophia Morgan (griffinspen) said:
    October 5, 2011 at 10:31 am

    Awesome photos. Great experiences. I’ve done a few of the easier adventures, but don’t think I’ll ever have the courage to skydive. Congrats on being Pressed!

    a little wit said:
    October 5, 2011 at 10:27 am

    you are living the dream.

    hayat bilgisi said:
    October 5, 2011 at 10:14 am

    WoW, this is too amazing for me ;)

    Yoga Yajna said:
    October 5, 2011 at 9:38 am

    good to see someone happy and enjoying what she does, especially she a happens to be a South Asian and that to loves enjoying solo…..Just read this bychance…..Regards

    lucygail7 said:
    October 5, 2011 at 9:30 am

    Fantastic! That’s the way to live!

    Go Send or Disobey said:
    October 5, 2011 at 9:13 am

    I’m not much of a team sports person either but I do love camping, hiking, horseback riding and white water rafting. And my bicycle, oh how I love tearing up the trails on my bike. I do have a little issue with heights so the zipline and skydiving may be problematic but you’ve got me thinking about rock climbing. Actually, I know tis isn’t the same thing but I have been considering a climb up the back of Half Dome in Yosemite in the near future…

    Congrats on being Fresh Pressed!

    Kelverz said:
    October 5, 2011 at 9:08 am

    one word…wow! looks amazing. great to see people living the dream. here’s to many more happy adventures for you

    metallurguy said:
    October 5, 2011 at 8:53 am

    Just went through your amazing blog. Certainly you are a good writer, and I like the way you compose your thoughts into words.

    corneliamladenova said:
    October 5, 2011 at 8:07 am

    Beautiful photos, you really must have had unforgettable adventures :)

    Jaipur Sightseeing said:
    October 5, 2011 at 7:54 am

    You are a good traveler.

    jaller said:
    October 5, 2011 at 7:40 am

    woooow, great,… so when will you come to indonesia?

    whenquiet said:
    October 5, 2011 at 7:35 am

    The entire time I absorbed these photos, I couldn’t help but think that you should consider stuntwoman as a possible profession. Thanks for sharing.

    jnantomah said:
    October 5, 2011 at 7:23 am

    that is totally amazing. from a no-show to hello world. :) very inspiring. i would definitely like to go out there too..

    Isobel said:
    October 5, 2011 at 7:22 am

    Awesome! I’m into mountainclimbing and horseback riding. Anyway, how does it feel to skydive? I really want to try that…

    Amongst those activities, zip-lining is the thing that I can see myself doing (slash that, trying) in the not-so-far future! :)

    October 5, 2011 at 7:21 am

    adventure sports brings out the best!

    The Simple Life of a Country Man's Wife said:
    October 5, 2011 at 7:09 am

    Wow! You might not be “sporty”, but you sure are adventuresome!

    StanNeon said:
    October 5, 2011 at 5:20 am

    I wish I can do that too. Your adventures are amazing. I only know how to ride my bike on different places.

    sunlitcanopy said:
    October 5, 2011 at 5:08 am

    Looks like you had the best outdoor adventure ever! This was an invigorating post to read :D

    Munira said:
    October 5, 2011 at 4:48 am

    Not only was this a brilliant post, i’m so pleased to see a Freshly Pressed Pakistani girl!!! *two thumbs up*

    Julio Eiffelt R R said:
    October 5, 2011 at 4:22 am

    nice picts outdoor sport.. challenging.., :)

    ajeeshsj said:
    October 5, 2011 at 4:00 am

    It is fantastic………………..

    feistygirl said:
    October 5, 2011 at 3:42 am

    wow that was a lot of adventure for some one who hates sports!! Awesome….congrats on being FP! :)

    sangram27 said:
    October 5, 2011 at 3:21 am

    Nice ;-)
    i loved it

    Jude Chukwuemeka said:
    October 5, 2011 at 3:12 am

    Sporting for me at school was a tertiary thing. Though I love sports so much, I took care of my studies.

    seekingresolution said:
    October 5, 2011 at 1:50 am

    I understand your avoidance of the sports of your youth. I never found team sports interesting at all, but adventures where you are your own team are wonderful. Congratulations upon stumbling on a world of excitement and happy travels to you!

    As The North Face says, “Never Stop Exploring!”

    Iris Daphne said:
    October 5, 2011 at 1:47 am

    This is interesting! Cool!

    mishfish13 said:
    October 5, 2011 at 1:01 am

    Hahaha, looks like you didn’t give yourself enough credit! You look pretty sporty to me.

    Slamdunk said:
    October 5, 2011 at 12:46 am

    Those shots of Costa Rica look fantastic. I have always wanted to go there.

    dijana said:
    October 5, 2011 at 12:34 am

    Looks way too fun! Gotta love the adventure!

    thisonechance said:
    October 5, 2011 at 12:15 am

    This is really amazing and so inspiring! you have the life that I want someday!

    Nathan Menkveld said:
    October 4, 2011 at 11:36 pm

    Those are great! Your pictures of whitewater rafting in Costa Rica just got me very excited (I am going there in January to backpack and whitewater kayak with my college). I like the range of things you have tried, very impressive.

      Nathan Menkveld said:
      October 4, 2011 at 11:44 pm

      I forgot to mention, if you wanna check out some of my trips:
      …I will have my Costa Rica pics up in February, but I have other trips up now that may inspire some more ideas for you to try

    RoseWine said:
    October 4, 2011 at 11:09 pm

    WOW cool!!! Nothing can compared all of those beauty that has given. Congrats!!

    Raxa Collective said:
    October 4, 2011 at 10:48 pm

    Congrats on being Freshly Pressed. It looks like nature helped you “find yourself”. We lived for many years in Costa Rica and are now in southern India. So much of the world to explore!
    Please take a look at our site for inspirations on your next outings!

    thejourney21 said:
    October 4, 2011 at 10:47 pm

    It’s all about the journey!

    Fiona.q said:
    October 4, 2011 at 10:22 pm

    you are so so special and COOL!!

    Sue said:
    October 4, 2011 at 10:12 pm

    Great post! And beautiful pictures! I especially like the last one!

    aikonamerica said:
    October 4, 2011 at 10:11 pm

    Nice adventures sports. Congratulations for the post.

    Matthew Weigand said:
    October 4, 2011 at 9:30 pm

    Rock climbing tops the list, hands down.

    manalkhan responded:
    October 4, 2011 at 8:23 pm

    thanks guys for your comments!! i had no idea i was FP-d, soo exciting! :) i have to say, i was terrified before the zip-lining, white water rafting and skydiving – REALLY terrified! but once there was no turning back, it was an absolute blast…so definitely don’t let your fear hold you back! having an equally adventurous partner/friend also helps a great deal :)

    ANAR373CT said:
    October 4, 2011 at 7:56 pm

    i like adventure,nice pict..
    visit on

    Lowongan Kerja said:
    October 4, 2011 at 7:30 pm

    So amazing… great pics, nice life

    etomczyk said:
    October 4, 2011 at 7:15 pm

    No, no, no, no, no. You are not a person who is unathletic! Judging from these shots, you were born to do this stuff. I did that same Costa Rica adventure and if you want to see spastic nonathleticism, you should see me “stuck” in the middle of the zipline or being eye-balled by the crocodiles. I wrote a humorous story called “Once Upon a Time” on my blog if you want to see what your chubby alter ego looks like being athletic. You’re Wonder Woman compared to me! Congrats on being FP’d and making me depressed.

    CJ Anton said:
    October 4, 2011 at 6:21 pm

    Wow, beautiful photos. You put my lazy computer-attached self to shame.

    Paula Unleashed said:
    October 4, 2011 at 6:10 pm

    Love the photos , I wish I could do any of those ( except maybe sky diving lol ) and hope im lucky enough to one day. thanks for sharing these !

    jlsalinger said:
    October 4, 2011 at 5:54 pm

    Great photos. I have always wanted to go zip lining.

    Eva McCane said:
    October 4, 2011 at 5:42 pm

    love it! these are all things i’ve done, or plan to do very soon. love where your heads at. thanks for sharing!

    broadsideblog said:
    October 4, 2011 at 5:11 pm

    Fun post! I’ve hiked Machu Picchu and snorkeled in Fiji….it’s great to be able to travel and really get out into the land and water wherever you go. We tried to go horseback riding in January 2010 in southern New Mexico but our horses were too badly spooked — by the mountain lion leaving his tracks nearby.

    I admire your bravery for the ziplining, rock-climbing and sky-diving. My most adventurous so far was working for seven days aboard a Tall Ship, climbing the rigging every day to work 100 feet in the air on footropes.

    Klaus Kommoss said:
    October 4, 2011 at 4:56 pm

    “a woman and wonderer who wishes to make use of herself”. There is of course even much, much more use that could be made. I love your attitude; the term “use” is mostly quite perplexing.

    naturenewbie said:
    October 4, 2011 at 4:51 pm

    This is totally inspirational! Great pictures :)

    sandallandthecity said:
    October 4, 2011 at 4:51 pm

    I was at Arenal, Costa Rica this past year and went horse back riding as well. What a beautiful country! Thanks for the post, it made me excited to adventure again!

    thereisjoyinthejourney said:
    October 4, 2011 at 4:48 pm

    Thanks for making me feel more adventurous vicariously through your gorgeous photos!

    asoulwalker said:
    October 4, 2011 at 4:36 pm

    Way to inspire… by having fun.

    kianys said:
    October 4, 2011 at 4:30 pm

    Wow – if you are unathletic than I am a total klutz (which actually I am, but more as in lack of grace and my ability to find any potential accident in waiting). I think my favorite is you on horseback (maybe b/c I love/d riding). You do look good on that horse! Thanks for sharing those lovely pictures and congrats on being f.p. :)

    Andreas Moser said:
    October 4, 2011 at 4:29 pm

    I love hiking. This summer, I walked across England, from coast to coast:

    PCC Advantage said:
    October 4, 2011 at 4:22 pm

    I love hiking, snorkeling, and horseback riding, but I SUCK at skiing for some reason…haha.

    This was a great list! Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed! :)

    Cultural Life said:
    October 4, 2011 at 3:59 pm

    That zip-lining sure looks like fun!

    Congrats on being Freshly Pressed.

    acquayeraphaelawuku said:
    October 4, 2011 at 3:59 pm

    i sure want to do all of them. they all jux went to ma vacation activity list

    Olivemore said:
    October 4, 2011 at 3:53 pm

    quite adventurous.

    whorganic said:
    October 4, 2011 at 3:48 pm

    Love this! You rock baby

    GraceLynneFleming said:
    October 4, 2011 at 3:46 pm

    so wish this kind of stuff was for me! but its just not – especially since I’m allergic to nature haha! looks like a lot of fun and great photos!


    Queen Linda said:
    October 4, 2011 at 3:45 pm

    You go girl! Pretty awesome for someone “not athletic”! Terrific photos!

    Lakia Gordon said:
    October 4, 2011 at 3:29 pm

    Yes, hopefully more to come! Adventures are always great :)

    Personal Concerns said:
    October 4, 2011 at 3:27 pm

    wonderful ideas!

    drwebs said:
    October 4, 2011 at 3:25 pm

    Love the photo of the horse, looks like so much fun!

    TheLookoutDiary said:
    October 4, 2011 at 3:12 pm

    The pictures are just amazing!

    Anita Mac said:
    October 4, 2011 at 3:06 pm

    Love it – live life to the fullest! Love the sense of adventure. I am in the same boat – absolutely dreaded phys ed! That was until my school brought out outdoor education. We went hiking, canoeing, built igloos and did orienteering exercises. Definitely more the speed of sport I am into too!
    So – what is next? Have fun – looks like you are already!

    Dounia said:
    October 4, 2011 at 3:00 pm

    Really cool pictures! I love hiking and rock climbing (the rare times I got a chance to climb), but I’d love to try zip-lining and white water rafting sometime! Thanks for sharing and congrats on freshly pressed!

    Pamanner said:
    October 4, 2011 at 2:54 pm

    Gorgeous pics. . .hope to see the sites someday! :-)

    howtobecharming said:
    October 4, 2011 at 2:53 pm

    Ohh the envy, how I would love to try out some of these… Zip-lining. And SKY-DIVING. Whoaaa :) Already enjoy some of them but yeah WHOA sky-diving. :)

    lexy3587 said:
    October 4, 2011 at 2:51 pm

    WOW! I am with you on the ‘don’t like team sports’ thing, though I haven’t done nearly as many exciting things as you!

    meltdownatcampcrazy said:
    October 4, 2011 at 2:47 pm

    I love other phys-ed non-enthusiasts!!!! If there were t-shirts, I’d wear mine everyday. Gorgeous pictures, thanks for sharing. You’re way more adventurous than I’d ever dream of being!! Hats off to you!!

    Kiteboarder said:
    October 4, 2011 at 2:43 pm

    Nice! May i suggest kiteboarding?

    Peter Parkorr said:
    October 4, 2011 at 2:34 pm

    Thats a good range of sports there, I am totally stealing your idea and creating one of my preferred adrenaline boosters!

    Oh God, My Wife Is German said:
    October 4, 2011 at 2:26 pm

    Great post! Thank you!

    Cathy said:
    October 4, 2011 at 2:17 pm

    Everything looks fun. I am also not athletic but that doesn’t prevent me from being adventurous :)

    shespoke said:
    October 4, 2011 at 2:12 pm

    Excellent! I live for adventure, even if it’s just on the bike path down from my house. As a certified tomboy growing up, this kind of life was a rather natural trajectory for me. Kudos to YOU for not letting your childhood demons of unathleticism hold you back. And congrats on being FP’d.

    conniewalden said:
    October 4, 2011 at 2:05 pm

    It all looks so fun. Thanks for sharing your adventures. Connie

    Laura said:
    October 4, 2011 at 2:00 pm

    Awesome pictures! There’s more to life than throwing and catching a ball.

    danidimps said:
    October 4, 2011 at 1:56 pm

    You just made me want to jump out of a plane, on a horse, into the ocean with snorkel gear on. Those trips look amazing! Good for you :)

    Yatin said:
    October 4, 2011 at 1:53 pm

    Amazing post :) really liked it!

    Mikalee Byerman said:
    October 4, 2011 at 1:49 pm

    Wow. It sure seems you grew out of the “un-athletic” phase, as these all look remarkably athletic to me!

    Beautiful photos… :)

    Romantic Asian Guy said:
    October 4, 2011 at 1:48 pm

    I love the outdoors…I’m very jealous of the numerous adventures you’ve been on! Do you have one fav adventure and why?

    Zuhaib said:
    October 3, 2011 at 7:22 am

    Hehe Awesomeeeeeee :) m loving em!

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